Community goes into full lock-down in response to a positive COVID-19 test result in the community
By Don Norman
Sagkeeng Chief and Council have declared a state of emergency and have locked down the community – placing restrictions on band members leaving or entering the community and only allowing non SFN members to pass through the reserve. They also have banned gatherings of 10 or more people.
The order in council comes in the wake of the news that a COVID-19 case had been identified in the area “for the purpose of combating the spread of COVID-19 to, and within, the SFN community.”
In regards to the travel restrictions, the order included these points:
- A general travel ban shall be in effect immediately upon the passing of this BCR that is applicable to all non-essential travel to and from any locations inside or outside the SFN Community;
- Members of the SFN Community shall only travel outside the community when necessary for the purposes of employment or in order to obtain essential goods and services, such as groceries and medical services and supplies.
- Checkpoints shall be set up so as to intercept all traffic in and out of the SFN community. All vehicles shall be stopped upon re-entrance into the community for the purposes of verifying driver and occupant identification, SFN community membership and verify the location of, and prupose for the trip.
- Non-SFN community members shall be denied entry to the community at the checkpoints that have been established at the community entrances. Exceptions shall be made in limited circumstances, including for spouses, common-law partners and children of SFN members.
- Essential workers who work as emergency responders, medical professionals, or in other emergency relief positions are exempt.
- Those found in violation of the travel band and restrictions on no-essential travel shall be ordered to isolate for fourteen days upon re-entering the community.
While the wording of the by-law clearly states that non-SFN members will be denied entry into the reserve, after requesting clarification from Chief Derrick Henderson, he indicated that drivers will indeed be allowed to pass. “PTH #11 is a provincial highway and anyone who is travelling through Sagkeeng to Traverse Bay or Belair to Lac Du Bonnet is permitted to go through,” stated Chief Henderson. “Information requested at checkpoints is for contact information purposes only.”
The check stop on the east end of Sagkeeng is west of Dock Road, and does not restrict access to the Pine Falls Boat Launch. An earlier check stop erected in May, had been placed on the Pine Falls side of the boundary.
The State of Emergency also includes a curfew for anyone to be imposed within the SFN community from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. each day. The checkpoints will serve to deny all access in and out of the SFN Community between these hours, unless there is an emergency which requires travel outside the permitted hours.
The order also warned that violators may face fines or other penalties as provided under the Sagkeeng First Nation Emergency Measures By-Law.